This article above from Yale University is too long for us to paste it here and we like our readers to once in a while read the full article; we are after all ingesting a substance that literally targets directly your brain. Knowing what it does and how it does it is important not just for you, but also for loved ones who might benefit from it, for example in this case where we talk about schizophrenia.
Here are the background, methods, results and conclusions of the article.
Nicotine in tobacco smoke can improve functioning in multiple cognitive domains. High rates of smoking among schizophrenic patients may reflect an effort to remediate cognitive dysfunction. Our primary aim was to determine whether nicotine improves cognitive function by facilitating activation of brain regions mediating task performance or by facilitating functional connectivity.
Thirteen smokers with schizophrenia and 13 smokers with no mental illness were withdrawn from tobacco and underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanning twice, once after placement of a placebo patch and once after placement of a nicotine patch. During scanning, subjects performed an n-back task with two levels of working memory load and of selective attention load.
During the most difficult (dichotic 2-back) task condition, nicotine improved performance of schizophrenic subjects and worsened performance of control subjects. Nicotine also enhanced activation of a network of regions, including anterior cingulate cortex and bilateral thalamus, and modulated thalamocortical functional connectivity to a greater degree in schizophrenic than in control subjects during dichotic 2-back task performance.
In tasks that taxworking memory and selective attention, nicotine may improve performance inschizophrenia patients by enhancing activation of and functional connectivitybetween brain regions that mediate task performance.